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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Do we need more manliness?’ (Coloroso says no)

By Christina Coloroso

Renowned Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield has received much attention for his controversial new book, Manliness.

Mansfield’s work calls for a return to more traditional gender roles-and for men, that means “manly” characteristics such as leadership, decisiveness and the exercise of authority under pressure, best exemplified by figures such as John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt.

The feminist movement, Mansfield argues, has damaged society by encouraging gender neutrality, thus ignoring the “natural differences” between the sexes.

According to Mansfield, the breakdown of such norms has harmed both men and women-but has especially left men wondering what type of behavior is acceptable for them in a post-feminism society.

Sure, they will be ridiculed for acting too feminine, but if they display too many of the traditionally manly characteristics, such as overly violent behavior, a “crazy feminist” like me may scold them for being “sexist.”

What’s a poor man to do? Pretend he is John Wayne, I guess. Equality be damned, it’s time for men to be men again.

Sometimes Harvard professors can be so full of crap.

While Mansfield may think he is talking about the positive benefits of manliness, he isn’t. What he is really talking about is how badly he wishes that more people would be willing to act heroically-that is, that more people would face danger and uncertainty without fear, that more people would take up leadership roles, that more people would not compromise values in favor of pragmatism and that more people would be thoughtful and determined.

But here’s the problem with Mansfield-he doesn’t seem to think women can do or be any of these things. So instead of calling it heroics, like it really is, he calls it manliness, thus excluding half the population from possibly attaining it.

There is no good reason to think that women do not make good leaders just because they are women. And if they are good leaders, it is unfair to say that they are acting “manly,” because it assumes that in order to be a leader, a woman can no longer be feminine. That’s a harmful and false choice designed to discourage women from exhibiting these traits.

And here’s another problem with Mansfield. Remember how Wayne always shot his enemies?

Yeah, that’s right. He shot them. Mansfield’s “virtuous” manliness ignores the negative aspects of stereotypical masculinity such as extreme competitiveness, the use of violence to solve problems and the subjugation of women, to name a few.

Plus, let us not forget that society is not gender-neutral and that isn’t necessarily what feminists want.

Feminists desire an equal society, where differences don’t matter-not one where everyone is assumed to be the same.

Mansfield may feel threatened by this, but that is only because it would mean that women would have to be paid more, granted free access to previously off-limits professions and industries and (here’s the big one) recognized as equals.

I can see how that might seem dangerous to a man who wishes he could be a cowboy of the Wild West.

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